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Texas Senate Committee Hears of Need for Skilled Workforce

This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to listen in on approximately 4½  hours of testimony on workforce training programs in Texas.  The hearing was held by the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce who have been charged to study whether such workforce training programs currently meet business and worker needs in Texas.  On the whole, the discussion was positive because there was a definite recognition by all presenters, as well as by the members of the committee, of the need to focus more on “career ready” as opposed to only “college ready” students.  It seems there is a wide variety of career opportunities available to high school graduates with the proper skills training.

As reported in the Austin American-Statesman, Mike Reeser, chancellor of the Texas State Technical College System, had the following to say:

“Too few families understand the kind of well-paying jobs that are available to high school graduates who get additional technical training, that 30 percent of the available Texas jobs are in fields that the state's technical schools offer, and that Texas could turn around the skilled labor shortage except that not enough students are entering the pipeline.”

While it is good news that there is a wide variety of attractive career opportunities, it is sobering news for our industry because the candidates for training have so many choices that we are finding it increasingly difficult to beat other industries to the skilled worker.  The current lack of training required to get hired by “low-bid” contractors and the decreasing availability of jobs that offer a true career path for many of our craft workers does not bode well for our industry’s future.  The Construction Career Collaborative (C3) is working to raise the bar of the workforce by addressing both of these areas.  After listening to the energy and passion of some of the speakers at the hearing, I could only think that if we want to get our fair share of the future “career ready” students, enacting the principles of C3 has never been more important.

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